2006 Game Projection: Virginia Tech vs. UNC (and Others)

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Virginia Tech begins their ACC season with a potentially dangerous road trip
to Chapel Hill. North Carolina has stayed with the Hokies for three of the four
halves played in the last two years, and UNC will be fired up after dropping
their opener to Rutgers 21-16. However, the Tar Heels have not been able to
match Tech’s strength in the trenches in the last two years and, after
watching the UNC-Rutgers game, North Carolina still has some concerns on both
sides of the line. But Virginia Tech has some of the same concerns after the
hit-or-miss performance against Northeastern.

While Rutgers has certainly improved, the Scarlet Knights gaining 217 yards
on the ground against UNC has to concern Coach John Bunting. Rutgers only gained
over 200 yards rushing against three opponents last year – Pittsburgh,
Connecticut, and Cincinnati. Sophomore running back Ray Rice gained 201 yards
against UNC on 31 carries, so look for Tech to employ a similar strategy with
Brandon Ore, whose running style resembles Rice’s. As expected, Ore saw
limited action against Northeastern, only gaining 54 yards on 11 carries, but he
had the highest pass receiving yardage total for a VT back since 1990, matching
Vaughn Hebron’s 81 yards.

North Carolina also has a quality back in hard-running Ronnie McGill (#25,
5-11 220, Sr.). McGill has been injury prone in his career, but he is tough to
bring down when he is healthy. Against Rutgers, McGill gained 94 yards on 14
carries, so containing him will be a priority for Virginia Tech. UNC also starts
Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey (#12, 6-1 205, r-Jr.), a former Tech recruit, at
quarterback. Dailey had a solid debut for the Heels, passing for 234 yards (24
for 36) and running for another 38, but his two interceptions proved costly. His
problems at Nebraska were because of mistakes (he threw 19 interceptions for the
Huskers), so Tech needs to pressure him and force turnovers.

Dailey’s favorite target in the Rutgers game was Brooks Foster (#1, 6-3
200, r-So.) with 11 receptions for 120 yards. True freshman Hakeem Nicks (#88,
6-1 210) caught 7 passes for 63 yards in his first collegiate start. Lynchburg
native Jon Hamlett (#86, 6-4 260, Sr.) is a three-year starter at tight end. On
defense, North Carolina is led by strong-side linebacker Larry Edwards (#32, 6-3
235, Sr.), who was the leading tackler on last year’s team. The Tar Heels hope
to have injured linebackers Durell Mapp (#48, 6-2 225, Jr.) and Victor Worsley
(#54, 6-1 235, r-Sr.) back against Tech.

North Carolina will likely give the Hokies some problems, but in the end I
see Tech winning the battle in the trenches and pounding out a win. Neither team
can afford mistakes, so minimizing turnovers will be critical in this game. Look
for Brandon Ore to have a big game and for Virginia Tech to pull away in the
second half. Virginia Tech wins 24-9.

Around the ACC

I went 8-2 in the first week of the ACC season, only missing the Miami-FSU
game (which I seem to miss every year) and the Rutgers upset of UNC. Here are
the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result

Northeastern at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech by 46

Virginia Tech 38, Northeastern 0

Florida State at Miami

Miami by 14

Florida State 13, Miami 10

Notre Dame at Georgia Tech

Notre Dame by 13

Notre Dame 14, Georgia Tech 10

Virginia at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh by 1

Pittsburgh 38, Virginia 13

Rutgers at North Carolina

North Carolina by 1

Rutgers 21, North Carolina 16

Syracuse at Wake Forest

Wake Forest by 9

Wake Forest 20, Syracuse 10

Florida Atlantic at Clemson

Clemson by 39

Clemson 54, Florida Atlantic 6

Appalachian State at N.C. State

N.C. State by 15

N.C. State 23, App. State 10

William & Mary at Maryland

Maryland by 19

Maryland 27, W&M 14

Richmond at Duke

Richmond by 4

Richmond 13, Duke 0

Clemson (1-0) at Boston College (1-0)

The best ACC game is a rematch of last year’s overtime thriller which
established Matt Ryan as BC’s quarterback of the future. Field position was
critical last year and I would expect that the same would hold true this year.
The team that can establish the offensive line should win this close match-up,
so I am going with the best returning line in the ACC. Clemson by 4 (20-16)

Duke (0-1) at Wake Forest (1-0)

Both teams will be starting rookie quarterbacks in this defensive struggle.
The two teams will try to run the ball and that game plan certainly favors Wake
Forest, with one of the better running attacks in the ACC. Wake Forest by 15
(21-6)

Wyoming (1-0) at Virginia (0-1)

The Wahoos are in a must-win situation facing the Cowboys, who won
impressively last week over Utah State 38-7. Virginia badly needs to rebound
after a lackluster performance in their opener against Pitt. I predict that UVA
will establish their running game this week and get a much needed victory. Virginia
by 15 (35-20)

Akron (0-1) at N.C. State (1-0)

The Wolfpack will get a test from the defending MAC champions, but N.C. State’s
running game will prove to be too much in the end for the Zips. N.C. State by
15 (31-16)

Troy (1-0) at Florida State (1-0)

The Seminoles might experience some let down after the big win at Miami, but
FSU has too much talent for the Trojans. Florida State by 32 (35-3)

Middle Tennessee State (1-0) at Maryland (1-0)

The Raiders invade College Park in hopes of an upset, but the Terps should be
too strong in the trenches for their Sun Belt foe. Middle Tennessee has a solid
defense which should keep them in the game for a while, but Maryland should pull
away late. Maryland by 18 (28-10)

Florida A&M (0-1) at Miami (0-1)

An angry Miami Hurricane squad hosts an overmatched Florida A&M team,
which can only mean one result – blow out. Look for this one to be over early.
Miami by 59 (59-0)

Samford (1-0) at Georgia Tech (0-1)

Another one-sided game pits an overmatched 1-AA team against a strong
defense. I see the Yellow Jackets getting the shut out. Georgia Tech by 49
(49-0)

Other Big Games around the Nation

I am off to a fast start in predicting the non-ACC games going 18-1 last
week. The only miss was California laying an egg at Tennessee. However, I hit
the Iowa – Montana game on the nose, 41-7. This week is headlined by the #1
vs. #2 match-up between Ohio State and Texas with a number of other big games on
the slate. Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result

Southern Cal at Arkansas

USC by 27

USC 50, Arkansas 14

California at Tennessee

California by 2

Tennessee 35, California 18

Northern Illinois at Ohio State

Ohio State by 30

Ohio State 35, Northern Illinois 12

North Texas at Texas

Texas by 59

Texas 56, North Texas 7

UAB at Oklahoma

Oklahoma by 29

Oklahoma 24, UAB 17

Washington State at Auburn

Auburn by 20

Auburn 40, Washington State 14

Marshall at West Virginia

WVU by 29

West Virginia 42, Marshall 10

Southern Miss at Florida

Florida by 26

Florida 34, Southern Miss 7

Louisiana-Lafayette at LSU

LSU by 39

LSU 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 3

Kentucky at Louisville

Louisville by 31

Louisville 59, Kentucky 28

Western Kentucky at Georgia

Georgia by 45

Georgia 48, Western Kentucky 12

Vanderbilt at Michigan

Michigan by 32

Michigan 27, Vanderbilt 7

Montana at Iowa

Iowa by 34

Iowa 41, Montana 7

Akron at Penn State

Penn State by 29

Penn State 34, Akron 16

Stanford at Oregon

Oregon by 15

Oregon 48, Stanford 10

TCU at Baylor

TCU by 13

TCU 17, Baylor 7

Louisiana Tech at Nebraska

Nebraska by 18

Nebraska 49, Louisiana Tech 10

Hawaii at Alabama

Alabama by 21

Alabama 25, Hawaii 17

SMU at Texas Tech

Texas Tech by 29

Texas Tech 35, SMU 3

Ohio State (1-0) at Texas (1-0)

The marquis match-up early in this football season sees the #1 and #2 ranked
teams squaring off. Last year Vince Young rallied the Longhorns in the fourth
quarter to knock off the Buckeyes 25-22. Young is gone, but Texas still returns
most of their down linemen. Ohio State lost 9 defensive starters to the NFL, but
without Vince Young the Longhorns offense isn’t as versatile. Look for Texas
to try to establish the run behind Jamaal Charles and for their defensive front
to slow down Ohio State’s running game. The key for Texas is to minimize big
plays in the Buckeyes’ passing game, in particular holding Ted Ginn in check.
I see Texas’ line play being the difference in this game with the Horns
winning more easily than most expect. Texas by 14 (27-13)

Penn State (1-0) at Notre Dame (1-0)

In the second biggest game for the weekend, Joe Paterno takes his Nittany
Lions to South Bend in this battle between traditional powers. Penn State is
replacing their entire secondary, which has to be a major concern when facing
Heisman hopeful Brady Quinn and Charlie Weis’ offense. The Nittany Lions are
strong up front on defense, but lack the big pass rushing threat to protect
their inexperienced secondary. PSU will need to put some points on the board
behind Anthony Morelli’s strong arm and their speedy receivers. Derrick
Williams, in particular, needs to have a big game to give Penn State a chance.
In the end, I see Notre Dame’s passing game to be too much for the Nittany
Lions in one of the more entertaining games for the weekend. Notre Dame by 9
(37-28)

Georgia (1-0) at South Carolina (1-0)

The Gamecocks nearly upset the Bulldogs last year, losing 17-15, and Georgia has to travel to
Columbia this year. Mark Richt has a new quarterback, Joe Tereshinski, traveling
into a hostile territory, so Steve Spurrier’s crew could be primed for an
upset. However, South Carolina’s offense sputtered in their opener against
Mississippi State and the Bulldogs have a talented, but young defense, so don’t
expect USC to put up a lot of points. The key for this game will be Georgia’s
ability to run the ball. I like Georgia in a tough, defensive struggle. Georgia
by 10 (20-10)

Oregon (1-0) at Fresno State (1-0)

The Ducks got off to a great start with a resounding 48-10 win over Stanford,
and the Bulldogs held off pesky Nevada. The Pac-10 makes a rare visit to Fresno
in a game that the Bulldogs have circled since last year’s 37-34 loss. In the
game last year in Eugene, the two teams combined for 750 passing yards, but I
don’t expect the same level of fireworks this year as both teams have improved
secondaries. In the end, I see Jonathan Stewart’s running ability being the
difference in one of the better games for this weekend. Oregon by 2 (28-26)

Other games involving ranked teams:

Auburn over Mississippi State by 23 (30-7)

West Virginia over Eastern Washington by 33 (45-12)

Florida over Central Florida by 31 (38-7)

LSU over Arizona by 26 (42-16)

Oklahoma over Washington by 26 (35-9)

Louisville over Temple by 42 (42-0)

Michigan over Central Michigan by 36 (49-13)

Iowa over Syracuse by 17 (24-7)

Tennessee over Air Force by 25 (35-10)

Nebraska over Nicholls State by 35 (42-7)

TCU over Cal-Davis by 34 (41-7)

California over Minnesota by 8 (35-27)

Texas Tech over UTEP by 13 (37-24)

Alabama over Vanderbilt by 18 (28-10)

1-AA Games Around the State

For the 1-AA schools in the state of Virginia, I was 5-1 in my predictions
for last week. The only loss was picking D-II Virginia State over erratic
Norfolk State. Here are the results from last week:

Game Prediction Result

William & Mary at Maryland

Maryland by 19

Maryland 27, W&M 14

Richmond at Duke

Richmond by 4

Richmond 13, Duke 0

Hampton at Grambling State

Hampton by 2

Hampton 27, Grambling 26

Bloomsburg at James Madison

James Madison by 34

JMU 14, Bloomsburg 3

Davidson at VMI

VMI by 3

VMI 20, Davidson 19

Virginia State at Norfolk State

Virginia State by 8

Norfolk State 29, Virginia St. 14

This week’s games see a huge match-up between the last two 1-AA champions
– Appalachian State and James Madison. I’m going with the Dukes in an upset.

James Madison over Appalachian State by 2

Hampton over Howard by 22

Norfolk State over VMI by 3 in OT

Liberty over Glenville State by 3

Have fun watching the games and be safe if you are traveling to Chapel Hill!

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